The Summer Pact: A Novel

The Summer Pact: A Novel

by Emily Giffin

Narrated by Karissa Vacker, Alex McKenna, JD Jackson

Unabridged — 10 hours, 14 minutes

The Summer Pact: A Novel

The Summer Pact: A Novel

by Emily Giffin

Narrated by Karissa Vacker, Alex McKenna, JD Jackson

Unabridged — 10 hours, 14 minutes

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Notes From Your Bookseller

From Something Borrowed to Something Blue and beyond, Emily Giffin knows how to write a story full of friendship, humor and heart.

In the wake of tragedy, a group of friends makes a pact that will cause them to reunite a decade later and embark upon a life-changing adventure together-from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Meant to Be.

Four freshmen arrive at college from completely different worlds: Lainey, a California party girl with a flair for drama; Tyson, a brilliant scholar and aspiring lawyer from Washington, D.C.; Summer, an ambitious, recruited athlete from the Midwest; and Hannah, a mild-mannered southerner who is content to quietly round out the circle of big personalities. Soon after arriving on campus, they strike up a conversation in their shared dorm, and the seeds of friendship are planted.

As their college years fly by, their bond intensifies and the four become inseparable. But as graduation nears, their lives are forever changed after a desperate act leads to tragic consequences. Stunned and heartbroken, they make a pact, promising to always be there for one another, no matter how separated they may become by circumstances or distance.

Ten years later, Hannah is anticipating what should be one of the happiest moments of her life when everything is suddenly turned upside down. Calling on her closest friends, it soon becomes clear that they are all facing their own crossroads. True to their promise, they agree to take a time out from lives headed in wrong directions and embark on a shared journey of self-discovery, forgiveness, and acceptance.

In this tender portrayal of grief, love, and hope, Emily Giffin asks: When things fall apart, who will be at our sides, helping us pick up the pieces?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Want to indulge in juicy, page-turning escapism? The Summer Pact is about a group of friends . . . [and] a reunion tour, a decade after college, inspired by a long-ago promise to turn to one another in times of need. [They] take turns narrating their trip to the Italian island of Capri, where closure may or may not await.”—The New York Times

“If you need a break from love and crime stories, try The Summer Pact, a novel about friendship. . . . Grief and redemption are big themes of this book. It’s not lighthearted reading, exactly, but it is deeply heartfelt.”Harper’s Bazaar

“I am a huge fan and so excited to read Emily’s new novel!”—Britney Spears (People)

“If Giffin is writing it, I’m going to be reading it.”Marie Claire

“A tender, heartfelt journey . . . Great writing is great storytelling—and that is what Emily Giffin does time and time again.”Woman’s World

“In a story about friendship, grief, love and connection, Emily Giffin delivers another unforgettable tale.”SheKnows

“Giffin is at her best when she’s delving into the hard and sometimes outwardly questionable choices that her characters make in their pursuit of happiness, and her latest harks back to her bold, layered debut, Something Borrowed (2004). This thirtysomething coming-into-one’s-own tale feels true to life, messy in all the best ways, and hopeful. A triumph.”Booklist (starred review)

Kirkus Reviews

The suicide of a friend creates a lifelong bond among three college classmates.

The latest from the author of Something Borrowed opens at the University of Virginia, where four freshmen are about to find the connection that will sustain them through the next four years. They are Lainey, an aspiring actor from California; Tyson, a Black man with law in his future; Summer, a star scholar and varsity athlete; and Hannah, whose conservative Southern mother is going to be very disappointed that she’d rather hang with these three than pledge a sorority. Shortly before their graduation, the unthinkable happens: For reasons no one will ever fully understand, Summer takes her own life. This leads to the eponymous pact: The trio of survivors agree never to take “drastic steps” before reaching out. They are in their early 30s when the first reach-out occurs: Hannah has walked in on her fiance screwing the local Instagram influencer in the bed she just bought for their future marital home. Lainey, now a Hollywood actor on her way up, drops everything and jets in from California to extricate Hannah and exact revenge. Tyson shows up, too, though he has to quit his job and ditch his girlfriend to get there. Once that mess is cleaned up, the three leave on a fantasy getaway on which each gets to pick a stop. The rest of the story unfolds mostly on Capri, always a desirable setting in fiction, where our protagonists hit places like “that beach club [from] TikTok,” La Fontelina. (Do Google it.) Though shocking life changes befall each member of the trio during their Italian sojourn, none are much of a surprise to the reader, who will likely notice the exact moment each plot twist became inevitable. Be quiet and drink your Aperol Spritz.

The time-honored post-breakup trip—“Eat, Shop, Party”—has life-changing results you needn’t believe to enjoy.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940159409256
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 07/09/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,124

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


It started with a small chip in my nail polish. Working in an interior design firm, I spent most of my days either moving furniture or hauling fabric, paint, and rug samples around town, so a chipped nail was hardly a rarity or anything I fussed over. But when a client called last-­minute to cancel our four o’clock Friday meeting, I decided I might as well squeeze in a quick manicure before I went home to get ready for the double date. Grady and I were going on with another couple. 

On my way to the nail salon, I swung by Grady’s house to pick up my favorite bottle of OPI polish—Mimosas for Mr. & Mrs.—which I’d left in his bathroom. Per my mother’s wishes not to “cohabitate,” I was waiting to officially move in with him until after the wedding. It was a waste of money, and a bit inconvenient, but there was something about the decision that felt romantic, too.

As I pulled into the driveway, I took a moment to admire the satisfying symmetry of the small but stately brick Georgian that Grady had just bought with a chunk of his trust fund. He called it our “starter home,” but I couldn’t imagine we would ever outgrow it. I especially loved the huge old magnolia in the front yard. One high, sturdy branch was perfect for a swing.

I parked my car in the driveway, walked up the front path, and used my key to unlock the front door. As I stepped into the foyer, I heard the low thrum of music coming from upstairs. Grady was still at work—I’d just called him—so I assumed he’d left his Alexa on. Midway up the flight of stairs, I could make out Coldplay’s “Yellow.” Then, a couple of steps later, I heard the faint sound of moaning. Female moaning. I stopped in my tracks and held my breath, telling myself there was no way. There must be a benign explanation. Maybe Grady had left the television on this morning, along with his music. Maybe he had blown off work, too, and was indulging in a little Friday afternoon porn. It wasn’t my favorite thought, but with Grady’s sex drive, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. That had to be it, I thought, deciding to abort my nail polish mission and save us both the needless embarrassment.

Yet the smallest kernel of paranoia lingered, propelling me down the hall and toward the bedroom door. It was only open a crack, but it was wide enough for me to peer inside and see a naked woman mounted on my naked fiancé, expertly riding him. They looked like a couple in a movie. . . . The scene was that airbrushed and golden, right down to the way the late afternoon sun streamed through the window and her long blond hair flowed down her tanned hourglass back. There was even a soundtrack, Chris Martin serenading them. And it was all yellow.

I stared in horror, my mind working overtime, wondering if she was a high-­end call girl performing some sort of hazing ceremony—a bachelor-­party ritual. But as the two fluidly changed positions, I had a hunch it wasn’t their first time. And then, in another gut punch, I recognized her. Grady was having sex with Berlin Beverly, a young Instagram influencer whom I happened to follow, as did about seventy-­five thousand other people.

Berlin’s page was curated pastel perfection filled with artfully arranged images of balloon bouquets and fine china tablescapes and expansive floral arrangements. Mostly, though, Berlin’s feed was full of Berlin, sashaying all over Atlanta—that is, when she wasn’t posing and preening aboard luxury yachts and private jets. To say she was smug is an understatement, but she had always seemed harmless, her clichéd captions punctuated with hearts, butterflies, and clinking champagne flutes. 

Several excruciating seconds ticked by as I watched them, wondering how this could be happening. Of course, I knew how in the literal sense. I knew that Grady had lied about being at work. I knew he must have parked his Porsche in the garage rather than in his usual spot in the driveway. I knew that Berlin lived two streets over, close enough to walk, which she must have done, as there was no sign of her Portofino blue Range Rover. I knew they had climbed the stairs, removed their clothes, and gotten in the upholstered bed that I’d bought with my designer discount.

How, though, was this actually happening?

I waited for the rage to kick in, knowing that I was supposed to follow the script of a woman scorned. Pull an Elin Nordegren and smash something. Curse at them. At the very least, interrupt their imminent orgasms. But I couldn’t make myself move, feeling paralyzed with an irrational feeling of shame. It was almost as if I was the one doing something wrong, and I might, at any second, get busted by them. Instead, I made my escape, slowly backing away, then running downstairs and out the front door.


I must have been on autopilot because I don’t remember driving home or parking my car in the garage or taking the elevator up to my apartment. Somehow, though, I now find myself in my foyer, collapsed on the floor. As the shock starts to wear off, I break into a cold sweat. I feel nauseous and dizzy. Like I might vomit or faint. 

I sit up, put my head between my knees, and take deep breaths, in through my nose and out through my mouth. At some point, I manage to lift my head and find my phone in my tote bag. I check my messages, a small part of me expecting to find a full confession from Grady. Instead, there is only a one-­line text from him, letting me know that he’ll pick me up at seven.

I close my eyes, wondering if Berlin is still in his bed. I picture the satisfied way he always looks after sex. His faint smirk.

I text back that I don’t feel well and need to cancel. It’s the truth. I have never lied to Grady. I stupidly add that I’m sorry. 

What’s wrong?

I feel nauseous.

Uh-­oh. Could you be pregnant?

I’m tempted to write back: No. Could Berlin be pregnant? But I’m not ready to confront him. I’m too disoriented.

No. Probably just a bug. Give my regards to the Campbells.

He gives my text a thumbs-­up and says he’ll call me later, feel better. He then sends a lone red heart. I stare at it, questioning every heart he’s ever sent me.

I’m not much of a drinker but decide I need something strong. I get to my feet, walk the few steps over to my kitchen, and survey my paltry selection of liquor. I opt for Tito’s, pouring it into a juice glass, skipping ice and mixers. Vodka neat and room temperature. Is that a thing? It is now. I take a large swallow, then quickly drain the rest and head down the hall to my bedroom. I take off my shoes and pants, then crawl under the covers, curling into a tight ball.

Just as the vodka starts to kick in, my phone rings. It’s my mother. I want to answer it. I want to pour my heart out to her and have her tell me that everything is going to be okay. But after thirty-­two years, I know better than to answer. I know that she is incapable of making me feel better after a stumble or fall, especially one this serious. She just can’t do it. She’ll find a way to make me feel worse. She had worked so hard to infiltrate Grady’s mother’s Bible study group, then the inner sanctum of her tennis team, to arrange that first date, years ago. And now all her effort was for nothing. I know that will be her take, and I can’t bear the thought of disappointing her. I can’t bear the thought of anything.

I tell myself to pull it together. My fiancé cheated on me, but it’s not the first time in human history that such a thing has happened. There are many people in the world struggling to survive—and in any event, suffering far more than I am right now.

But perspective is a hard thing to come by when your heart is broken, and I feel myself completely unraveling, believing this is proof that I’m destined to be alone, maybe even unworthy of having a happy family. Suddenly, all I want to do is call Summer. Hear her voice. Cry into the phone. She would know what to say. She would know how to ease my pain, if only a little. 

And that’s when I realize what I need to do. It’s not a solution, but it is a path forward. A baby step. A promise kept.

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